June 9, 2021 Subject:
Just another pretty face
First time hearing this show... I thought this was Nassau May/81 instead. Oops. Turns out the band is just about as hot as that show (5/6), so this must be a particularly smokin' East Coast tour.
One of my Litmus tests is how Jerry does on Uncle > Big River. Tonight, I'm glad to say, by this common yet exciting combo the band is in full tilt: Garcia, too. You know those versions where Jerry is playing so fast he's a split-second *ahead* of an already fast-tempo'd Weir? Yep, that's this show. Big River has a really freakin' cool Brent solo... always amazing to me how Brent could play "outside" of his natural genre, and convincingly, and this solo he takes on Big River is right up there with Better Than Every Other Dead Keyboard Player. The way he attacks his lines is super impressive, and Jerry's solos (and intra-verse playing) are likewise just about top notch. Plus his voice/lyrics are impeccable so in this combo/and the first set in general.
(I was hoping for more from Cassidy, jam-wise, but honestly any decent Cassidy jam is always special anyways-- I kind of think of it as a late '71 first-set Playing in the Band, with that open section of 'structured improvisation'--or maybe more like Let It Grow's improv section; relatively set, length-wise, but directonally-improvisitory. If you grok what I'm saying.
During Althea at around 5:15, when Garcia sings "Althea tooooold me...", that's the first time I have heard him rising in pitch on 'told', which might seem like minutiae but I is a good example of how soulful he was singing on this night. His lung capacity/singing voice/inner spirit were each, at least temporarily, just about as good as they were going to get by 1981. I really think he was giving it his best at this concert tonight. This version of Althea is a solid 8/10, probably more like a 9/10.
(Bobby is definitely flashing his two-note slide guitar techniques tonight. I can hardly wait for Little Red Rooster.... kidding.)
So far the first set is reminding me of.... this is going to sound weird, but like 1966-era Dead. Just a band going out there pretty dang hard on with rock and roll and country/folk songs, and a few originals, and turning up the sweat but feeling really good about their chops...
DANG! Just as I was typing this Brent comes out with this monster *growl* (around 3:45) leading into his solo on Little Red Rooster. Thank the heavens for Brent ever coming into this band. Yikes, his solo is again is maybe not earth-shattering but so inventive and pleasureful to listen to; his facility for inspired playing, but also his keen sense of the tastiest tones for his keyboard rig. Garcia also fairly shreds his main solo, using an overdriven attacking style which is perfect for this kind of song. (I always think of it as justifiably passive-aggressive on Jerry's part for going to hard on his LLR solos of this era, as if saying to Bobby: "Dude you just plain suck at bottleneck slide guitar."
...And as soon as I write that,at the VERY end of LLR Jerry put the slide back on his finger and plays a final lick at the end of the song, rising into a two-note upwards slide/glissando which made me think HOLY SHIT WAS THAT BOBBY?... but no, it was Jerry, because even though he only really plays slide on the intro thru the first solo, he ended the song with it it too, and it was glorious and a hilarious contrast to Weir's less than stellar wielding of that particular guitar-tool.
There is more to say, but my "pretty face" is just about to be stolen or melted off. VERY GOOD, borderline exceptional show! I'm giving this five stars, because frankly that's what it deserves. If this was the last Dead show I ever listened to, I could live with that.
Soda speak. Enjoy this one!
May 11, 2014 Subject:
One of best 81 shows
I prefer to rate by era and for 1981 Dead this is 4.5 star show This soundboard sounds great and I've always been drawn to the fine versions of many tunes, including Althea, Smokjng China>Rider, well jammed Shakedown Street and a fantastic He's Gone (dedicated to Bob Marley).